|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
THE BOOTLEG FAMILY BAND
Geoff Cox (drums)
Tony Naylor (guitar)
Gus Fenwick (bass)
Brian Fitzgerald (keyboards) 1973-75
Russell Smith (trumpet)
Penny Dyer (vocals)
Angela Jones (vocals)
Louise Lincoln (vocals)
Clive Harrison (bass) 1975
Ian Mason (keyboards) 1975
Singer/songwriter/producer Brian Cadd originally put together The Bootleg Family Band as the house band for the independent rock label Bootleg, which Fable Records boss Ron Tudor had established with Brian in late 1972.
The idea was that the Bootleg house band would provide core musical backing for records and tours for himself and the other artists signed to the label. The concept was inspired by American musician Leon Russell, who had put together all-star ensembles to back tours and Albums like Joe Cocker's legendary Mad Dogs and Englishmen and for Russell’s own Leon Russell and the Shelter People on his Shelter label. That idea was in turn grew out of Russell’s own experiences as a longtime member of “The Wrecking Crew”, the crack team of ‘first-call’ L.A. session musos who played the backing tracks on countless famous recordings by The Beach Boys, the Phil Spector stable, Sonny & Cher, The Monkees and many others during the ‘60s and early ‘70s.
The Bootleg members were all seasoned veterans of the Melbourne scene, equally at home on stage or in the studio. Drummer Geoff Cox was one of Melbourne's most in-demand studio players, with a huge string of sessions to his credit. He had come from the recently defunct Cycle (1969-73). Members of Cycle including Cox were part of the all-star session groups that performed on Russell Morris' acclaimed solo LP Bloodstone (which Cadd helped put together) and Circle backed Morris on his first major solo tour in early 1972, which included a well received performance at the otherwise ill-fated Mulwala festival in April. (Cycle guitarist David Briggs later replaced Rick Formosa in the Little River Band in the late 70s.) Gus Fenwick was a former member of the highly-rated but shortlived Healing Force.
Trumpeter Russell Smith joined the band in April 1973, making it an eight piece. He was a long-serving member of the Ram Jam Big Band, Levi Smith's Clefs and Luke's Walnut, the group that replaced Tully as the HAIR house band in 1970. Besides backing Cadd and other Bootleg artists, the Bootleg Family Band band recorded four Singles and scored two major hits under its own name, adding to the considerable solo success of Cadd and other Fable/Bootleg artists like Mississippi and Stephen Foster.
Their debut, a Top 5 hit, was a cover of Loggins and Messina's "Your Mama Don't Dance" (Feb. 1973) and featured Cadd prominently. The second single "Wake Up Australia" (June 1973) failed to chart but the third single, a cover of the late Betty Everett's "Shoop Shoop Song" (July 1974), delivered another Top 10 hit. The band toured the USA with Cadd in May 1974, performing at Expo '74 in Spokane, Washington and at the famous Roxy Club in Los Angeles. While in the USA they became the first Australians to perform on the American rock shows Midnight Special and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert.
The four single A-sides were combined for the four-track Bootleg Family Band EP alongside their fourth and last single "Green Door" (February 1975), which barely scraped into the Top 100.
By 1975 it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the large band on the road, so in May the line-up was cut back to a four-piece comprising Naylor and Cox with new members Ian Mason replacing Fitzgerald (who moved to America) and Clive Harrison replacing Fenwick. Renamed simply The Bootleg Band, this lineup was used for mostly for touring, although they issued a final single "How Do I Try?" / "Rockin' Hollywood" in October 1975, which scraped into the lower half of the Top 100.
When Brian Cadd relocated to the States at the end of '75, Mason left the group (he subsequently joined Ariel) and the remaining members renamed themselves Avalanche.
"Your Mama Don't Dance" / "Honky Tonk Woman" (Bootleg BL 155)
"Wake Up Australia" / "Ballad of Billy Clover" (Bootleg)
"Shoop Shoop Song" / "Walking Home in the Morning" (Bootleg BL 220)
"Green Door" / "Kenny" (Bootleg BL 231)
as The Bootleg Band
"How Do I Try?" / "Rockin' Hollywood" (Bootleg BL 256) #60
The Bootleg Family Band E (February 1975)
All recordings produced by Brian Cadd.
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock (Outback Press, 1978)
& Zbig Nowara
Who's Who of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 2002)
Dreams, Fantasies & Nightmares: Australia (Borderline Books, 1999)